A day after President Muhammadu Buhari said the National Assembly and not him could restructure the country, a group of eminent leaders from Southern
Nigeria threw the ball back in his court, pointing out how he can safely lead the country through the process.
The Southern leaders affirmed that restructuring could not be achieved through alterations of the constitution but only by a new constitution adopted through a referendum.
The Southern Leaders of Thought made their submission as one of their leading members, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, SAN, submitted that he had got assurances from the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, that agitations for the actualisation of Biafra could quickly fade, if the country was restructured.
However, that assertion was quickly denied by Kanu, who, speaking in Umuahia, Abia State, said he could not have given that promise when there were no indications that the reported injustices against his people could ever be addressed by restructuring.
Notable SLT members at the briefing with Professor Nwabueze included Chief Solomon Asemota, SAN; former Ijaw National Council president, Professor Kimse Okoko; Professor Akin Oyebode, Professor Anthony Kila, Evangelist Elliot Uko, Chief Tola Adeniyi, Comrade Wale Okunniyi and Mr. Chigozie Ubani.
The leaders urged President Muhammadu Buhari to lead the move to restructure the country.
They said: “We think the way forward for Nigeria is for the people, in exercise of the power inherent in them as a sovereign people, to make, through a referendum, a new constitution, constituting a new political order.
‘’The process must be led by the President, as the elected leader of the people imbued by an ardour for change.’’
Asked what would happen if the President refused to back restructuring, Nwabueze said it was for Nigerians to respond as a sovereign people who had right to govern themselves.
Insisting on restructuring to address the rot in the polity, the leaders, in a statement signed by Nwabueze, said: “Restructuring is not a matter that can be implemented by amendment of the 1999 Constitution. It imperatively requires a new constitution adopted or approved by the people at a referendum.”
The Southern Leaders of Thought, while insisting on the restructuring of the country, said: “Negotiated re-structuring, implemented through a new constitution, is the best assurance for the realisation of our collective desire for one Nigeria.”
IPOB, Kanu will drop agitation for Biafra, if…— Nwabueze
Speaking on Kanu’s conditions to drop the agitation for Biafra, Nwabueze said: “I now take the opportunity to announce that the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, who has been castigated for wanting to break up Nigeria through Biafra has authorised me to say that, if there is progress along the lines of restructuring, he will persuade his group to give up their demand for Biafra and to discontinue the threat to disrupt the 2019 election.
“So, anybody who is opposing restructuring is the one breaking Nigeria, not Nnamdi Kanu. If they refuse (to restructure the country), then there will be trouble. And the trouble would not be caused by Nnamdi Kanu but those who oppose restructuring.”
I won’t drop demand for Biafra —Kanu
Kanu was, however, quick to refute the claim. Kanu, who made the denial in Umuahia, Abia State, said he couldn’t have made such a pronouncement when there were no indications that the endemic injustices against his people could ever be addressed through restructuring.
Urging Biafra activists and members of the public to disregard the speculation, Kanu said those who believe Nigeria could ever be restructured were living in self-illusion because “those benefiting from the current lopsidedness will stop at nothing in resisting any move towards restructuring.”
According to him, it is too late to restructure Nigeria “because those who think Nigeria is their estate have made restructuring impossible.”
Kanu further said the advocates of restructuring would one day come to terms with realities but regretted that such realisation might be too late.
He said the restoration of Biafra Republic is not negotiable, adding that no amount of blackmail or intimidation will make him give up the struggle. Kanu said he was born to restore Biafra and could not afford to fail God and his people who are yearning for emancipation.
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